Las Vegas, Calif. – The San José State softball team got just one hit off UNLV starter Morgan Ettinger, a sixth-inning single from Cassidy Clark, but it was all the team would need because it drove in the only run of the game in SJSU’s 1-0 victory.
The win reduced the Spartans magic number to clinch the Mountain West Championship and earn the conference’s automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Softball Championship Tournament to one. Either a Spartans win or a San Diego State loss in one of the final two games of the regular season will lock up the crown for SJSU.
The Spartans struggled all day against Ettinger, who struck out five, issued three walks and hit a batter. The hit batsman was leadoff hitter Emma Entzminger. It was the 16th time this year Entzminger has taken one for the team, and equals the program’s single-season record, which was set last season by Jessie Hufstetler.
Aside from Entzminger, the only other base runner San José State (36-15, 16-6 MW) managed in the first five innings was an Alyssa Avila leadoff walk in the third.
While the Spartans were struggling to figure out the UNLV hurler, SJSU’s ace Katelyn Linford scattered five hits in the first five frames.
To open the sixth, with the game 0-0, Mackenzie Drake (0-for-1, R) walked. Entzminger laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Drake into scoring position, the first Spartan to reach second in the game. Casey Watt then walked bringing Clark to the plate. On a 1-1 count, Clark (1-for-3, RBI) served a single into the gap in right center. Watt went to third and Drake scored on the play for a 1-0 lead.
SJSU had two more chances to add to the lead, with Watt on third, but couldn’t drive in another run.
Linford took over from there. She allowed one hit, a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth, but then recorded the final five outs to earn her 23rd victory of the season. Her win total is the third most for a Spartan in a single season.
San Jose State and UNLV (23-27, 6-16 MW) play game-two of this three game series on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. The final game of the regular season, originally scheduled for noon on Saturday, has been moved up to an 11:00 a.m. start.